23 July 2010

Things to do in Rome on a Monday

In Rome - and indeed across Italy - Monday is the traditional closing day for museums and tourist sights. This is very frustrating for tourists, as almost every museum and gallery in Rome is closed on the day when a lot of holidaymakers and long-weekenders might want to be sightseeing.

Here are some places which are open on a Monday in Rome, and some ideas for a fulfilling day:

- the Forum, the Palatine and the Colosseum are all open from 8.30am until an hour before sunset
- the Vatican Museums are open, though busy, on Mondays from 9am-6pm
- The Doria Pamphili Gallery (fine art in a rich palazzo) is open 10am-5pm
- Rome's Jewish Museum is open 10am-6.15pm
- the Keats - Shelley House is open 10am-1pm and 2pm-6pm
- the Protestant Cemetery is open 9am-4.30pm; the pyramid alongside can be viewed from the exterior
- churches are generally open every day, though they close for several hours in the early afternoon
- the Pantheon is open all day
- San Clemente, near the Colosseum, is a very interesting church with underground levels to visit
- the Mamertine Prison, on the Capitoline hill, is open
- the Baths of Caracalla are open 9am-2pm
- select one or two churches with great art and pay them a visit (generally closed lunchtimes/early afternoon) - try the Caravaggio paintings in San Luigi dei Francesi and Sant'Agostino
- walking around Rome is always interesting, free, and open to the public. Tour the Circo Massimo, the Mouth of Truth, the Tiber Island, Trastevere, the Centro Storico, the Trevi Fountain.

Note that on a public holiday, some of these opening times may no longer apply. Also bear in mind that many shops in Rome are closed on Monday mornings and lunchtimes.

16 July 2010

Caravaggio Night in Rome

Tomorrow night (Saturday 17th July) is the Notte di Caravaggio in Rome. From 7pm to 9am on the 18th, various sites holding Caravaggio masterpieces will stay open all night, with free entry. There are also events and entertainment - if you are an art lover, this is a must. It's also a good way to deal with the current heatwave in Italy - take a long daytime siesta, then head out into the cooler Roman night.

Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, is apparently the 'new Michelangelo' and it certainly seems he is taking that master's place in the public heart. The theory is that his darker works and 'anti-hero' character make him more appealing to the modern psyche (hopefully not quite the Raoul Moat of art, though he certainly seems to have been a bad lot) - read an article in the New York Times discussing this. The 18 July is the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio's death. There are new biographies of him, his bones have just been miraculously 'discovered' by the Catholic Church, and he is very much the man of the moment.

Saturday's Night of Caravaggio should be a great way to see Caravaggio in a new (or less) light and an interesting experience. The main site for events is the Galleria Borghese, which has works by the artist permanently on display, and some additional paintings for this exhibition. An all-night shuttle service will connect the gallery with the 'Caravaggio churches' containing other works; the open-top buses will leave the Galleria Borghese every 20 minutes, Roman organisation permitting.

> Official information in Italian - unfortunately I've not found any official programme in English, but even if you don't read Italian, clicking on the 'programma' link will give you an idea of the bus circuit.

8 July 2010

Transport strike tomorrow, 9th July

It's a summer weekend, so workers across Italy have decided to prolong their holiday by staging a strike on Friday 9th July. Transport is the sector most affected; if you are in Italy at the moment, the best advice is simply to stay put.

There is a railway strike from 9pm tonight until 9pm tomorrow. Meanwhile, local public transport firms are striking for 24 hours tomorrow. The times, schedules and availability of 'guaranteed' minimum services will vary from firm to firm. If you have to travel, look up the details of the transport services you want to use - most Italian firms are now sufficiently net-savvy to post up news items on their websites with details of how the strike is likely to affect their services.
> Venice boat and bus services tomorrow
> Rome details (in Italian, basically there should be public transport until 8.30am and between 5pm and 8pm)

The next strike likely to have a significant effect on travellers is the 20th July, when it looks as though there'll be disruption for air travel.

I don't always list strikes in this blog - for brief but more frequent updates on Italy, please follow italyheaven on Twitter.

> Strikes in Italy